Soccer

Enzo Maresca calls coaching Chelsea ‘a dream’ after joining on five-year deal

It is the 44-year-old’s first job in charge of a senior top-flight side and comes after he masterminded Leicester’s return to the Premier League.

Enzo Maresca said it is ‘a dream’ to have been appointed Chelsea boss
Enzo Maresca said it is ‘a dream’ to have been appointed Chelsea boss (John Walton/PA)

Enzo Maresca said it was “a dream” to have been appointed Chelsea head coach after he was given a five-year contract to succeed Mauricio Pochettino at Stamford Bridge.

Describing his excitement at being handed the task of steering the next phase in owners Clearlake Capital’s rebuild of the club, he pointed to the “talented group of players and staff” that he will lead when he officially becomes the third permanent managerial appointment of the Todd Boehly era on July 1.

It is the 44-year-old’s first job in charge of a senior top-flight side and comes after he masterminded Leicester’s return to the Premier League in his first and only season at the King Power Stadium.

“To join Chelsea, one of the biggest clubs in the world, is a dream for any coach,” the former Manchester City U23 coach said in a statement. “It is why I am so excited by this opportunity.

“I look forward to working with a very talented group of players and staff to develop a team that continues the club’s tradition of success and makes our fans proud.”

The PA news agency understands that it was the Italian’s experience working at City, where he also assisted Pep Guardiola during the Treble-winning season of 2022/23, that in part persuaded Chelsea that Maresca was their man, ahead of a pack that also included Ipswich’s Kieran McKenna and outgoing Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi.

The winning mentality he instilled at Leicester as they swept to the Championship title is also understood to have been a factor in the unanimous decision reached by the board and co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart, who led an exhaustive search.

“We are delighted to welcome Enzo to Chelsea,” said the pair. “He has proven himself to be an excellent coach capable of delivering impressive results with an exciting and identifiable style.

“Enzo has deeply impressed us in our discussions leading up to his appointment. His ambitions and work ethic align with those of the club. We thoroughly look forward to working with him.”

Maresca, whose deal comes with an option for a further year, is eager to meet with Chelsea’s squad at the earliest opportunity in order to impart his plans for the team, with the balance and composition of the club’s expensively assembled-yet inexperienced side having been a key factor in persuading him to take the job.

Despite currently being on holiday he has already begun the task of analysing the team’s matches from last season, and has requested that a data room be set up to analyse the performances of first-team and academy players.

Seeking to establish himself quickly, he is understood to have sought out details on every member of staff at the club’s Cobham training ground.

A priority for the hierarchy was to make an appointment that would fit their model of working, in which a head coach sits within a wider set-up where work is delegated and remits strictly defined.

Maresca’s willingness to work within a system that prioritises data is one of the aspects of his style that sets him apart from Pochettino, who wanted a more traditional role with more say over issues such as player recruitment and backroom appointments.

PA understands there has been a positive response amongst the squad to the appointment, with feedback from other players to have worked with him being encouraging.

His coaching and communication skills are amongst the attributes to have been spoken of favourably.